Stateless man finally makes it home to California
Mikhail Sebastian, the stateless man who came to the territory in December 2011 for a four-day holiday and side trip to Apia, Samoa but ended up stranded in Pago Pago for 14 months, is finally back in Los Angeles, Calif., after encountering a little problem at the Honolulu International Airport.
Sebastian departed the territory Monday night using travel documents provided by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) that allowed him to enter the U.S. with a World Passport.
He said that the departure out of Pago Pago “went smoothly” with Hawaiian Airlines re-issuing his expired airline ticket without having to pay any fines. Immigration process upon arrival in Honolulu also went well with agents checking his documents showing that he was being paroled to the U.S.
A female Immigration supervisor at the Honolulu airport “was very nice and polite”, said Sebastian via e-mail from Los Angeles on Wednesday. The supervisor had in her hands a letter from USCIS allowing him back to the U.S. and the supervisor was looking for him at the immigration arrival area at the Honolulu airport.
According to Sebastian, his paperwork shows that he is “Paroled” into the U.S. until Mar. 11, 2014 and he then went to claim his luggage before going thru the Transportation Security Administration screening where problems began, while his flight was due depart for Los Angeles in two-hours.
Sebastian claimed that the TSA “did not want to cooperate” despite his documents being cleared by immigration and for the fact that it clearly stated “I was paroled” to the U.S.
With time running short, Sebastian said he went back to the “polite” Immigration supervisor for help. “She showed...courtesy and escorted me thru TSA and asked the TSA supervisor to allow me to pass [through] with a World Passport,” said Sebastian.
“And at the end she [Immigration supervisor] followed me” to the departure gate for the Los Angeles flight “and we got there 10 minutes before boarding was over and I made it,” said Sebastian, who praised the professionalism and kindness shown by the Immigration supervisor.
To the people of American Samoa and especially those who supported and helped him, “I love you very very much from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “I will go for job hunting as I need to get some job as quickly as I can so I'll be able to find my own apartment.”
“Next step is to become permanent resident and citizen [of the U.S.], and we should not forget other stateless people as well who are living in the U.S,” he said.
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